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Non-renewed teacher holds on to hope

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Christina Graham, the popular third-year, non-tenured kindergarten teacher at Copper Ridge Elementary School whose principal waited until the last day of school to inform her that her contract was not being renewed, spent all summer applying for jobs and waiting for her phone to ring.

It didn’t. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Despite applying for nearly 40 advertised positions with Knox County Schools,
Graham, who earned good evaluations and built close relationships with parents and students in her classes, didn’t get a nibble.

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Who the heck is John King?

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Sixth District County Commission candidate John King – no, not lawyer/lobbyist/politico John Kirby King; this is the younger, shorter, less well-known John D. King – is a man of many websites.

He’s taken down the website from 2014 when he got 1.2 percent of the vote against Lamar Alexander in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, but some vestiges remain, like the friendly Libertarian website touting his promise to give away a bunch of free stuff, including a starter house – prweb.com/releases/2014/06.

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City’s defense of pension lawsuit is weak

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

The city of Knoxville is trying to settle the lawsuit against it and the Pension Board over the cost of city employees buying back years of military service for their city pension. The Pension Board deadlocked 4-4 on whether to allow the reduced rate over the higher rate with council member Finbarr Saunders and Mayor Rogero voting for the higher charge for veterans.

The board has acknowledged error in not advising city employees of this benefit early in the process, and it is generally felt the city has a weak case and may ultimately lose. Mediation is being sought by a mediator outside Knoxville. Whether this will solve the case or not is uncertain, but an effort is underway.

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Parks and greenways: pro-neighborhood, pro-business

Scott Frith
Government/Politics columnist

We live in one of the most scenic areas in the country. With the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau and countless rivers and streams in between, our region is perhaps best known for its ridges, waterways and (of course) Dolly Parton. Yet, too often our local governments have made shortsighted decisions that fail to take advantage of our area’s natural beauty. In fact, more often than not, we’ve taken it for granted.

My favorite example of shortsighted planning is the waterfront of downtown Knoxville.

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Smithwood Baptist stands strong

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries
170th Anniversary Celebration of Smithwood Baptist Church. Attendees assembled for a group photograph after an inspirational service on Sunday morning, Aug. 9.   Photograph by Fred Cannon
170th Anniversary Celebration of Smithwood Baptist Church. Attendees assembled for a group photograph after an inspirational service on Sunday morning, Aug. 9. Photograph by Fred Cannon

The service opened with a congregational hymn “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” with the voices of 50 members of the choir and surely the most talented piano, organ and flute accompaniment available, all leading the singing of the 375 members of the congregation.

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